Women find out they were switched at birth and have been living with the wrong families for 72 years

The two families are now in the process of planning a big reunion party so that they can all meet and talk about the extraordinary circumstances that have brought them together


                            Women find out they were switched at birth and have been living with the wrong families for 72 years
The infants were switched at birth (Getty Images)

Two elderly women, Linda Jourdeans and Denice Juneski, have always had a feeling that they never really fit in with their families. When it came to appearances, Denise is the only naturally blonde one while all her relatives are either brunettes or redheads. Linda was the only redhead among a whole load of blondes. When it came t physical activities, Linda played softball even when she was in her 50s and Denise was the only one in her family who never really took up sports unlike her relatives.

These doesn't seem like anything to really think about because genetics is a complex topic but when the two women found out who they were really related to, they were in for a surprise.

AT 72 years old, the women found out that they had been switched at birth and had been living with each other's families all this time. The Daily Mail reported that they were able to find out about the switch with the help of the online genealogy websit 23andMe.

Early in the morning on December 19, 1945, the two women were born at the Bethesda Hospital in St Paul, Minnesota. They were born just 31 minutes apart. For more than 70 years after the accidental switch happened at the hospital, the two women grew up in their families always feeling like they were different.

Denise said in an interview with KING-TV: "People just automatically assume they got the right family. It's a crazy thing." She was the one who had given her DNA to 23andMe in the hopes that it would help her find out more about the history of health in her family.

The website gives you genetic information and can also give you a list of your closest relatives if you so desire. This is the information that shocked Denise. When she looked at the results after they reached her home a few weeks after she gave the DNA sample, she was blown away by the results which showed that she was not even remotely related to any of the people she thought were her family all this time.

Not one to give up or jump to conclusions, Denise sent in her DNA samples for a second time. The woman lives in Eagan, Minnesota. When the results came back for the second time, she knew that a mix up had happened somewhere along the way because it still showed that she had no relations in her family. She said: "Either 23andMe made a mistake, or I was switched at birth. I was really supposed to be another person."

Things started moving along at a faster pace when Linda's daughter, Michelle, saw that Denise's name popped up on the same website as a close relative of hers. She also found out that Denise was living only 40 miles away in Hammond, Wisconsin. Michelle had suspicions for a long time that her mother was different and this almost proved it for her.

The tenacious daughter had told her mother Linda multiple times that she looked nothing like anyone else in the family. She was so determined to find the truth that she even went through public birth records to find out if her mother really belonged in the family she had called her own since she was born.

Michelle saw Denise's name was listed on the genealogy website as a close relative of one of her cousins. She told her mother that she had a theory the two women were switched at birth. Linda told KING-TV: "I did my DNA right away, because I've got to see this on paper." When the results came back, she saw the name Marianne Mayer listed as the result for her mother and this seemed to confirm the suspicions at last.

The women will probably never find out how the hospital staff managed to switch the two of them at birth. Linda said: "I'm sure the nurses that probably took care of us are dead. We'll never know."

Even though the two women will never find out "how" they were switched when they were babies, they have said that they are just happy that they even managed to find out about each other in the first place. Denise said: "I consider it a gift".

The women have met a few times after they found out about each other in April of this year. They both are slowly but surely getting to know the families that they never thought that they would never meet or even had to begin with. This also includes Linda's birth mother, 99-year-old Marianne Mayer, who lives in a memory care home.

These meetings have been especially rewarding for Linda who had lost Rochelle Nielsen, Denise's birth mother, when she was only 17. Rochelle had passed away many years ago of cancer.

Everytime Linda and Denise go to visit Mayer in the memory care home, they always have to tell her that they were switched at birth because she can't remember very well but they don't mind. Mayer doesn't seem to mind hearing the story time and time again either. She genuinely laughs when the two women tell her that she now had even more grandchildren than before. 

The two families are now in the process of planning a big reunion party so that they can all meet and talk about the extraordinary circumstances that have brought them together.